An obsessive true crime investigation of a bizarre and unlikely perpetrator, who’s serving the opioid epidemic’s longest term for illegal prescriptions — four life sentences
Written in the tradition of I'll Be Gone in the Dark and True Crime Addict, combining Dopesick's heart rending portrayal of the epidemic's victims with Empire of Pain's examination of its perpetrators
This haunting and propulsive debut follows a journalist’s years-long investigation into his father's old classmate: former high school valedictorian Paul Volkman, who once seemed destined for greatness after earning his MD and his PhD from the prestigious University of Chicago, but is now serving four consecutive life sentences at a federal prison in Arizona.
Volkman was the central figure in a massive “pill mill” scheme in southern Ohio. His pain clinics accepted only cash, employed armed guards, and dispensed a torrent of opioid painkillers and other controlled substances. For nearly three years, Volkman remained in business despite raids by law enforcement and complaints from patients’ family members. Prosecutors would ultimately link him to the overdose deaths of 13 patients, though investigators explored his ties to at least 20 other deaths.
This groundbreaking book is based on 12 years of correspondence and interviews with Volkman. Eil also traveled to 19 states, interviewed more than 150 people, and filed a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit against the Drug Enforcement Administration that led to the release of nearly 20,000 pages of trial evidence.
The American opioid epidemic is, like this book, a true crime story. Through this one doctor’s story, an era of unfathomable tragedy is brought down to a tangible, and devastating, human scale.